Health Ministry officials confirmed close to 9,000 new cases of Covid-19 and more than 200 deaths on Sunday, as Argentina’s total number of infections rose to 711,325.
The government said that 8,841 new cases had been recorded by the authorities over the past 24 hours, with 40.43 percent (3,575) in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA). The most affected regions after AMBA were Córdoba (1,577 new cases), Santa Fe (944) and Mendoza (558).
Of those who have been diagnosed with the virus, 565,935 individuals are considered “recovered” by the authorities, with 129,641 cases classified as “active.”
Bed occupancy in intensive care units (ICUs) nationwide now stands at 61.1 percent, rising to 64 percent in the AMBA region.
Deaths, meanwhile, rose by 206 on Sunday to reach 15,749, though government officials are anticipating a large surge in numbers in the coming days. The addition of at least 3,309 fatalities are pending after an overhaul of numbers by the Buenos Aires Province government, announced last Friday.
Argentina now ranks ninth globally for confirmed cases and 14th for deaths from Covid-19, according to data collated by John Hopkins University.
Pending fatalities in Buenos Aires Province
On Friday, officials in Buenos Aires Province sparked surprise when they confirmed the addition of more than 3,400 deaths to Argentina’s overall total was imminent.
The government in the nation’s largest and most-populous province attempted to explain the move by saying that “no individual system collects 100 percent of the cases, so information was triangulated to obtain the total number of deaths," rising the region’s overall death toll to 12,566 (as of Friday).
Officials in the national government said the delay in reflecting the new fatalities were because the results had “not been loaded into the National Health Surveillance System (SNVS)."
The provincial government, led by Kirchnerite Governor Axel Kicillof, faced criticism from opposition lawmakers, who accused officials of trying to mislead Argentines.
Nevertheless, similar adjustments have been seen in countries all over the world, with delayed reporting normally related to Covid-19 cases that are confirmed post-mortem. Several countries in which the health system has been close to collapse have also experienced delays in confirming fatalities.
Buenos Aires remains Argentina’s most affected province from Covid-19, though concern has now shifted to several inland regions, where reports of cases are on the rise.
On Saturday, authorities in Santa Cruz Province registered a daily record of five fatalities, lifting its overall death toll to 61.
Almost all, 57, have been in Río Gallegos, with three fatalities in El Calafate and one in Puerto San Julián.
Mar del Plata in ‘worst moment’
Officials in Buenos Aires Province warned over the weekend that Mar del Plata is facing its worst moment of the Covid-19 pandemic so far, with the famed coastal resort approaching close to 12,000 infections. To date, 232 fatalities have been recorded there since March.
There are also concerns about the economic impact on the region, given the amount of jobs that are dedicated to tourism. Visitors are almost non-existent at present given the lockdown imposed by the Alberto Fernández administration and a campaign by local business owners is pressuring the government to lift restrictions.
Guillermo Montenegro, the mayor of the municipality of General Pueyrredón, said in a radio interview on Sunday that the region currently had a higher unemployment rate than in the 2001-2002 economic crisis.
Mar del Plata is "going through the worst crisis in history," Montenegro told Radio Rivadavia, referring to last week’s report from the INDEC national statistics bureau that revealed joblessness had risen to 26 percent in the second quarter of the year.
"INDEC let us know that we have 26 percent unemployment – in 2001, unemployment was 24.2 percent," said Montenegro. "One out of every four people from Mar del Plata, who is able to work, does not have a job.”
He said that he asked Governor Kicillof to approve the restarting of a new round of “low-risk” activities, in order to get the local economy moving.
“This has nothing to do with a quarantine/anti-quarantine discussion,” said Montenegro. “Living with this situation and starting to make the city move is key."